Prevent Zika Virus
According to the CDC, in May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. Since then, Zika has rapidly spread throughout much of the world, including parts of the U.S. Mosquitoes carrying Zika have been verified in the U.S. The CDC says that the most common symptoms of the Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild, with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Zika can remain dormant for months inside a person who was infected; it can then be transmitted to others. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, however the babies delivered from infected women can have serious conditions ranging from permanent birth defects to the death of the baby. Newborns from mothers who had Zika during pregnancy can sometimes appear mostly normal at birth, but go on to have serious health issues including seizures, serious joint problems, vision impairment, and developmental delays that become evident in the weeks and months after birth. From a Reuters article called “Zika mystery deepens with evidence of nerve cell infections” by Julie Steenhuysen, some people who were infected with Zika were recently discovered to have “serious brain and spinal cord infections - including encephalitis, meningitis and myelitis.” And there is conclusive evidence that it leads to Guillain-Barré syndrome in infected persons (a paralysis condition, similar to Polio, which can be temporary or permanent, sometimes even fatal). Zika appears to zero-in on nerve cells and brain cells, and then kill them. To prevent Zika Virus is of great importance.
Precautions we should take:
- Pregnant women, or men and women who may become a parent in less than a year, should avoid areas known to be active with Zika. Currently, the list of known countries with confirmed cases of Zika is over 60 and growing.
- Since Zika appears to also be sexually transmittable, take appropriate precautions.
- Avoid mosquitoes.
- Eradicate mosquitoes.
Zika is a substantiated epidemic in Latin America and in the Caribbean. In addition to the current countries that are active with Zika, the United States has areas with established populations of the vectors (mosquitoes) which are known to carry Zika. They are illustrated in the image map below.
*These maps were developed by CDC using currently available information. Mosquito populations may be detected in areas not shaded on this map, and may not be consistently found in all shaded areas.
Since the Zika virus mainly spreads through mosquito bites, one of the best ways to avoid the disease is to avoid mosquito bites. The CDC advises the public to cover ourselves with layers of clothing, and with long-sleeved shirts and long pants or netting, and to apply insect repellents following these basic guidelines.
- Follow the product label instructions.
- Pregnant and breast-feeding women must only us EPA-approved repellents.
- Reapply insect repellent as directed by the repellent.
- Avoid spraying repellent onto the skin under clothing.
- Apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent if you're using both.
- Children under 2 months old cannot use insect repellents.
- Children over 2 months old: Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin. Adults: Apply insect repellent onto your hands and then apply it to the child’s face.
We can also decrease the probability of Zika infection by eradicating mosquitoes in our proximity either before they hatch or after they fully develop.
Before mosquito season, cover, dump, modify or treat large water-holding containers with long-lasting larvicide.
After mosquitoes have already grown into adulthood, traps and poisons are the most common approaches. Also, the avoidance and destruction of their habitat near your home will also help to reduce your exposure.
The Placer Mosquito Control District advises us to “avoid mosquito habitats such as areas with heavy underbrush or standing water.”
The World Clinic advises: “Avoid tall grass, weeds and shrubs as adult [mosquitoes] make their home there; and pay attention to drainage around the house. Keep grass cut short and shrubbery well-trimmed around the house, so adult mosquitoes will not hide there.”
From The Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley: “Trim back tall weeds and bushes. These offer homes for adult mosquitoes. If you limit these, you will reduce the number of adult mosquitoes.”
According to Wikihow: “Mosquitoes aren't likely to lay eggs in tall grass, but they tend to sit in tall grass for rest and hiding. Keep your grass as short as possible and [cut it] as frequently as possible.”
And from Mosquitoworld.net: “Cut the grass and trim the bushes. During the day, mosquitoes like to rest in tall grass or among shrubs in a moist, shady spot. Keeping the grass short deprives them of a resting place.”
What Can People Do To Prevent Zika Virus In the Countryside
Helping to prevent Zika Virus
If tall underbrush is in close proximity to you and needs to be trimmed, and a lawnmower or a line trimmer is not practical, then maybe a simple hand tool would be more useful. Consider using either a machete or a Bush Hook or a Brush Axe or another type of brush clearing tool. These low-cost and simple to use hand tools were created specifically for clearing patches of weeds and underbrush rapidly, especially in difficult and crowded or sloped conditions. They are not very common nowadays, but thankfully, Nursery Enterprises carries numerous different types and sizes of brush-clearing hand tools.
Though no one can guarantee that we will not be affected by Zika, we can however, decrease the probability with these commonsense measures. If you believe that you might have been exposed and infected with Zika, then please contact your medical professional—not only for your own welfare, but also on behalf of those around you.
The following video from the Washington Post further explains the Zika virus:
Below are some useful posters and illustrations from the CDC which may be relevant in your efforts to eradicate mosquitoes.
Click images to enlarge.